We will not be getting a third Madrid Derby in four years in the Champions League final .
After Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid on penalties in the 2016 final and in extra time in the 2014 title game, the sides were paired up in the semifinals in Friday’s draw. That means, necessarily, that the two other remaining contenders, Monaco and Juventus, were cast together in the other semifinal.
The all-Spanish first leg will be played May 2 at Real’s Bernabeu. The return will be at the Vicente Calderon May 10. Juve will travel to Monaco first on May 3, with the return match slated in Turin May 9.
The Champions League final takes place in Cardiff, Wales on June 3.
Real and Atletico have become familiar foes. But for the latter, it feels like a window is closing with an aging core and a miracle manager in Diego Simeone who is rumored to be leaving either this summer or the next — likely for another club he fought for as a midfielder, Inter Milan. Zinedine Zidane’s Real, meanwhile, look for a record 12th European title — nobody else has more than seven, being AC Milan — and to become the first club in the Champions League era of the last 25 years to win it in consecutive years.
Their prior finals were both thrillers. Last season, Sergio Ramos’s early goal for Real was undone by a late equalizer from Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco. The affair went all the way to penalties, in which Real converted all five it its efforts but Juanfran failed from the spot for Atletico.
Two years prior to that, the scenario during regulation was more or less reversed. Atletico held the lead for almost an hour, thanks to Diego Godin, before Ramos came through again with an equalizer in the 93rd and final minute of injury time. In extra time, Real ran rampant with goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo from the penalty spot.
Still, this game is tough to call, with both teams featuring enormous fire power up front and stingy back lines. In La Liga, Real, which knocked out Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals, thumped Atletico 3-0 in their first matchup at the Calderon in mid-November. But their second game, just two weekends ago, was much tighter, ending 1-1 thanks to a late Antoine Griezmann equalizer for the red-and-white visitors, who beat Leicester City to reach the Champions League semis.
Real, facing Barcelona at home in El Clasico on Sunday, looks destined to win its first La Liga title in four seasons. Whereas Atletico, which last won it in in 2014, faded from the title race with a difficult spell in the Fall, when it lost four times in seven matches.
The other semifinal is a a do-over of a 2015 quarterfinal, when Arturo Vidal’s penalty for Juve at home in the first leg was the only goal. The Italians would go on to reach the finals that year, where they lost to Barcelona and set a record for the most Champions League title match defeats with six — the previous co-holders were Bayern Munich. Monaco has been to the final once, in 2004, and lost to a young Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto.
Juve upset Barca in the quarterfinals by a surprising 3-0 aggregate score, avenging that loss. Monaco had a relatively comfortable time of eliminating Borussia Dortmund, whose first game was marred by an attack on the team bus.
Both these teams are much evolved from two years ago, when they last met. Juve has only further consolidated its dominance of Italy — a sixth straight La Liga title is probable — by picking up ever more attacking talent, headlined by the Gonzalo Higuain-Paolo Dybala axis up front, and depth. Monaco has transformed from a defensive-minded brick wall to a swaggering young team. The 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe has turned heads, while his Colombian partner Radamel Falcao has known a resurgence after several dogged by injuries.
Juventus is the clear favorite to reach a second final in three years, marking its indisputable return to the European summit after a referee-manipulation scandal saw it relegated from Serie A and knocked from its perch more than a decade ago.
Down in the Europa League three of the four quarterfinal bouts remarkably went to extra time. Of the survivors, Manchester United, which squeezed by Anderlecht, will face Celta Vigo — the only team to advance in regulation, albeit by a lone goal over Genk — in the semifinals.
They play May 4 and 11.
In the other contest, Ajax, survivors of an apparent collapse against Schalke with two injury-time goals, will attempt to extend its Cinderella run against Olympique Lyon, which needed eight rounds of penalties to knock out Besiktas.
Those games will be played May 3 and May 11.
The Europa League final takes place in Solna, Sweden on May 24.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.